Thursday, October 04, 2012

Von Braun 'Paperclip' Team Member Rudolf Schlidt Dies in Huntsville

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Rudolf Schlidt (Member of Von Braun's Paperclip Team)

By Lee Roop
The Huntsville Times

     HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Rudolf Schlidt, one of the last surviving members of Wernher von Braun's original "Paperclip" rocket team, has died in Huntsville. Schlidt, who died Friday, was 98.

Schlidt was a guided missile expert who was with von Braun developing the V-2 missile in Germany in World War II. His expertise was "rocket construction, testing and research of high temperature materials," according to his obituary. He accompanied von Braun to Fort Bliss, Texas, after the war and later to Huntsville, where the team led development of America's first missiles and later the Saturn V that took Americans to the moon. The team was code-named "Paperclip" by American military and intelligence services at the end of the war.

In a 2008 interview with The Huntsville Times on the occasion of NASA's 50th birthday, Schlidt recalled the war and his early life in America. Drafted into the German army, Schlidt said he thought he was bound for a parachute team but ended up at Pennemunde where the Germans were developing the V-2. "We were far from the war ...," Schlidt said. "It was a nice assignment." When the Allies bombed the missile factory, it became "hell." The scientists and engineers were evacuated in 1945, and Schlidt eventually made his way to America with the team. He weighed 136 pounds. . . .

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